NCOs soak up strategic lessons
GARMISCH, Germany — The plan for this week’s International Senior NCO Seminar called for top noncommissioned officers from a more than a dozen nations to gather to discuss topics such as the “NATO and Trans-Atlantic Community of Values.”
“When I first heard about [the seminar], I was a bit skeptical. I thought, ‘Not another bloody management course,’” said British Royal Air Force Warrant Officer Chris Ruhle.
But a major focus of this week’s event, just the second of its kind, was to give NCOs in-depth presentations on high-level strategic topics they might not normally have access to, said the command sergeant major for the U.S. European Command, Michael Bartelle.
The point, U.S. organizers said, is to help top NCOs better understand some of the issues their commanders have to take into account when making decisions for troops.
And with topics such as “Countering WMD Proliferation: The Case for Missile Defense,” and “The Future of Coalition Warfare,” delivered by military experts from the Marshall Center for Security Studies, attendees (including Ruhle) said they’re anything but bored.
“It’s good to have such lessons,” said Sgt. Maj. Henryk Ostapski, from the Polish army. “You’re kind of an adviser of the most senior general in your army. It’s necessary."
Along with a host of talks and discussions focusing on the role of NCOs and ways to improve the NCO corps’ performance, presentations covered issues facing NATO, terrorism and American approaches to security threats.
Some lectures, such as the Tuesday discussion covering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, led by Marshall Center staffer John Reppert, contained startling information delivered by military experts.
In his talk, Reppert warned that weapons-grade uranium and plutonium — just five kilograms of which could “take out Brussels” — is not sufficiently guarded in some parts of the world, although by as early as 2030 there might not even be a need to worry about nuclear proliferation.
“Because we will have more lethal weapons than nuclear weapons [by then],” he said.